Sending out a book proposal for review by agents and publishers is an act of bravery. At The Business of Books, our raison d’etre is making sure you do it right…by way of a complete, polished, on-point book proposal that will give you the best possible chance at publication. Beyond that, you have to be savvy when submitting it. We recently interviewed publishers and agents in New York and asked them about some simple do’s and don’ts that they wish they could tell every writer. Listen up, potential authors!
DO know to whom you’re sending your proposal.
This translates as do your research. Over and over again, publishers have told us how frustrated they are with receiving proposals for the kinds of books they don’t publish. How would you like to work for a cookbook publisher and continually get pitches for children’s books or memoirs? Do your homework to ensure you’re sending your book to the right place; otherwise you waste your time and annoy the publisher.
DON’T pigeonhole the publisher.
Resist the urge to tell the publisher who they are (“You’re quirky,” “You’re intellectual,” “You’re prestigious”) when explaining why you’re sending them this book idea. It can make them bristle. Instead, tell them what other books they publish that you admire, and how your book might appeal to those same readers.
DO promote yourself and your idea as marketable.
Your book may be a labor of love, but it’s also a product that needs to be sold. In today’s publishing world, it’s more true than ever that writing the book is only half of your job. When you pitch your book, convey to the publisher that you understand this, and that you stand prepared to partner with them to promote and sell your book. Wow them with a terrific author bio and offer some creative ideas on how you might reach your target audience.
DON’T forget to say what the book is about.
Believe it or not, most publishers say that the most common rookie mistake is not clearly stating what the book is about. What is the book, what does it promise, and how does it deliver on that promise? It’s the author’s job to convey this clearly and passionately from the get-go.
Ready to learn more? Join us at our all-day book proposal seminar on Feb 9, “30 Days to a Winning Book Proposal,” or check out our helpful webinars, including “What Every Publisher Wants You to Know.” Write on!